DEP hearings: Rev. Bill Thwing, Pittburgh

31664_10150197269130105_5950125_nRev. Thwing is a past president of the PA IPL board.  He testified at the PA DEP listening session in Pittsburgh on September 21, 2015.  

Good evening.  My name is William Thwing.  I am a Pastor in Johnstown, PA;  the father of 4 children, grandfather of 5 and a geneaologist – which means that I can trace my family tree back many generations.  My ancestors who worked  so hard and sacrificed so much  enable the emergence of my generation today, would be appalled if they realized that all their prayers and hopes and efforts could be wiped out within a couple of generations by the chaos of the climate changes detailed in part in the most recent “Pennsylvania Climate Change Assessment”.   I fear for my grandchildren  and the generations to come, that we, in our shortsighted self-serving generation, will leave them nothing more than an  ‘immense pile of filth” as Pope Francis puts it in his Encyclical, Laudato Si. Now is the time to act decisively.  Now is the time to make the sacrifices necessary to insure our grandchildren’s survival and the survival of our nation.

I thank the DEP for holding these hearings and giving Pennsylvania citizens an opportunity to envision together a plan to insure our common welfare and survival. I believe that Pennsylvanians can and should craft our own State Clean Power Plan. It should be a plan that maximizes the creation of clean energy jobs and energy efficiency jobs in Pennsylvania and encourages the construction of in-state renewable generation facilities and the in-state manufacture of equipment and materials used for renewable energy and energy efficiency.  It should be a plan that leads to significant improvements in public health particularly in terms of the air we breathe and the water we drink and should benefit our most vulnerable populations. It should be a plan that protects the poor, the middle class and the elderly from the rising costs of fossil fuels.  The use of coal should be phased out as quickly as possible and policy insuring a just transition that protects the livelihoods coal producing communities implemented.

I believe that the first and most important step Pennsylvania should take towards implementing the concerns I just outlined,   is to impose a fee on carbon pollution with all of the revenue collected being returned to Pennsylvania citizens.. equally. This is in reference to page 899 of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan which indicates compliance can be accomplished by a progressive Carbon Fee and Dividend system. The fee would be imposed on all fossil fuels at the source – well, mine, port of entry.  If the fee starts of $15.00/ton of CO2 equivalent emitted and increases steadily by $10.00 / year,  within 10 years Pennsylvania would have exceeded our States goal in the EPA’s  clean power plan… and clean renewable energy would be cheaper to produce than dirty climate-disrupting fossil fuel energy.  If 100% of the fees were returned to the Citizens of Pennsylvania on an equal basis, in the resulting inflationary spiral, the poor and middle class would benefit and more than break even. A predictable rising carbon price consistent with free market principles would not only send a clear market signal which would allow carbon producers to transition rationally but would also would unleash a groundswell of entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean energy economy.

The concept is simple, transparent and easy to administer using existing  government collection and distribution systems.  According the super computer REMI modeling study, this simple Carbon Fee and Dividend program would not only reduce carbon pollution dramatically but would also grow the economy, result in 260,000 new jobs in our region more than compensating for the approximately  6000 jobs in the coal mining and utility industries that are lost and result in a significant reduction carbon pollution health care problems.

It’s a win/win solution that offers great hope to the citizens of Pennsylvania . As a person of faith and a faith community leader, who has struggled to find a solution to the Chaos implicit in the threat of Climate change and who absolutely believes that God provides, I believe that this simple program of the citizens Climate Lobby is a life line thrown to us by our God. If we can accept it with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength, We will leave a livable world for our grandchildren…. and our ancestors will not be turning over in their graves, knowing that in the face of this climate change crisis, our present generation did not lie down and die …but we turned…., we faced the enemy…, we made the necessary sacrifices,…. and we prevailed.  I believe we can do it and we should do it.  Amen